Thousands Protest Lack of Justice for Trayvon Martin

Barrington M. Salmon | 3/28/2012, 9:41 a.m.

Renee Raymond, a local criminal defense lawyer, said there is nothing complicated about what the authorities should do.

"I am here to give voice and stand with people who are stunned and outraged by the absence of local and federal action to a senseless murder," she said. "There is absolutely no reason, even with the law, that the admitted shooter has not been arrested. There is no rule or law in Florida which says that local authorities have to wait for a grand jury."

"I'm here with folks and ask that a simple, simple act of arrest for the simple taking of a life be done. It's the right thing. If the tables were reversed, it's safe to assume that Trayvon would be in jail."

Alexandria resident Shannon Malone came to the rally with her 14-year-old nephew Charlie Christiansen. The fact that she is white doesn't diminish the anguish she feels about the circumstances surrounding Trayvon's death, she said.

"I'm not surprised this happened," she said. "I lived in Georgia for 4 1/2 years and know how minorities are treated. I came here as an aunt. I have many friends with children. Trayvon did nothing wrong. Let me make this clear: the actions of the Sanford Police Department were reprehensible. I want them to be held accountable for their actions."

Her nephew shook his head as his aunt spoke.

"It's amazing to see so many people get together to fight for justice," Charlie said, surveying the crowd. "Racism drives people apart ... unless people get together, things will get worse."

A succession of speakers commented on the bigotry and racism that haunts black men and boys, demanded justice and expressed their determination to continue to agitate for change so that Trayvon's life would not be in vain. Most of them said that these protests mean nothing if Trayvon's death does not lead to wider social change.

However, David Bowers took a different tack, eliciting loud cheers from the crowd.

"It's tragic that Trayvon was killed but it's just as tragic when black people are killed by other black people," said Bowers, founder of No Murders DC. "Since I graduated high school in this city, thousands of people, most of whom look like me, have been murdered in this city. We need the same righteous indignation when a black man kills a black man or a black man kills a black woman as when a white man kills a black man."

Longtime activist and radio personality Joe Madison, who had just returned from Sanford, characterized Trayvon's slaying as a 2012 version of the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi in 1955. As surely as he is black, Madison said, if Trayvon had killed Zimmerman, he'd be behind bars.

"They did a blood test on Trayvon's body and not a test on the man who shot him," Madison said. "Not only did they let him go, they gave him his gun back. The case has gone cold."

"...Why are we here? Because we love Trayvon, we love his family."

Madison suggested designating April 10, the day a grand jury convenes in Sanford, as National Hoodie Day.

"Everyone should wear one. Hell, I want the president to wear one. This collective action will say to the world that we want justice."